2020 Monte Rio Cellars “Pinkette” Rosé Piquette, California.
The strawberry/ruby and dark pink Pinkette from Monte Rio Cellars is slightly fizzy reminding me of a lighter version of Lambrusco with more flavor and intensity than I had expected from this Rosé Piquette, an interesting new California interpretation of an ancient method style sparkling wine, which for a lack of a better explanation will call Pet-Nat 2.0 or a Glou-Glou Fizz. Patrick Cappiello, the famous Sommelier behind Monte Rio Cellars, a small micro craft winery in Sonoma County, explains that Piquette was started many decades ago by vineyard and winery workers in France who discovered that by taking the grape must out of the press and adding water, they could start a second fermentation, which results in a fresh, low alcohol, slightly sparkling wine. Cappiello adds, that over the past few years these style of wines have seen a big resurgence here in the United States and this 2020 vintage is his second harvest making them, of which he did two, one white made from Vermentino, Chardonnay and Melon de Bourgogne and this reddish/pink version crafted using an interesting combination of Gamay, Trousseau Noir and Trousseau Gris. More full flavored and almost meaty than you’d think the 2010 Pinkette shows a rustic and raw quality that is very appealing and it is much less foamy than a Pet-Nat with tart cherry, strawberry and plum water along with racy spices, sage/herb, mint and citrusy Moro orange zest, all of which makes for a refreshing more chilled red like than a delicate Rosé.

The Monte Rio Cellars wines are made in a partnership with Pax Mahle of Pax Wines, famous for some of California’s best Syrah offerings, as well as a series of natural style wines, so these wines are done using some of the same sources as he uses, with these vineyards, all organically farmed, Alpine Peaks for the Gamay and Bearg Ranch suppling the Trousseau Noir, plus Fannuchi giving the splash of the Trousseau Gris for this Skull Pinkette. For actual winemaking, according to Cappiello says, water is added to the grape must and is steeped for two days before it’s put into stainless steel barrels, with some unfermented Chardonnay (grape) juice added to assist a indigenous yeast fermentation. Then after primary is done, the wine is rested for five months in the steel barrels before another little bit of unfermented juice is added on the day of bottling to start second fermentation in bottle. These Piquettes have zero sulfur added and the finished alcohol is just 7% natural alcohol, making them lively, refreshing and surprisingly dry. This Pinkette is easily quaffable and fun stuff, it will be a smiles with BBQs and picnics, and like mentioned its Lambrusco like character makes it great with salami and cured meats. I honestly found this much more fun than most Pet-Nats and its less frothy spritzy light frizzante is more appealing to me, and I admit, I was more impressed that I that I would be. I have really enjoyed the last few vintages from Monte Rio Cellars, especially their old vine, whole cluster Zins, as well as their Skull series of wines, the Mission grape red and now this one too, all of which are old school and natural wines that are priced extremely well for their limited quantity.
($20 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

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